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Little League juniors ready for regional play

TAMPA — There was that one time during the Florida Little League junior baseball state tournament when a bucket of water, strategically placed on the edge of a door and its frame, found the head of a teammate.

Then another when shaving cream was applied to the face of a sleeping player.

"We're a pretty fun team," Palma Ceia/Bayshore manager Scott Linabury said. "You definitely could say the kids are lighthearted."

Except when it comes to the diamond.

PC/BS has been anything but playful this summer when it comes to baseball.

The team captured the state championship last week and will continue its journey toward the World Series this Saturday when it plays West Virginia at Cartersville, Ga., on the opening day of the Little League's Southern Region tournament.

"There's a lot of camaraderie on this team, on and off the field," Linabury said. "And, honestly, the parents may even get along better than the kids. It's that type of situation."

The PC/BS all-stars, age 13-14, is a group that has spent the past few summers together. Linabury said the core of this team has been a part of each other's lives for "about four or five years," and familiarity has been a key.

The core group of this year's team came closest to winning the state tournament, finishing third, in the 9-10 division four years ago. Linabury said although physical changes have played a part in the team's development, their success can be directly linked to progression above the shoulders.

"Mentally, they are a smarter and stronger group than back then," Linabury said. "They are more mature and there is a mindset to win now."

One of PC/BS's biggest advantages is its number of 14-year-olds. Of the 12 players Linabury carries, 11 are categorized as being 14. Although it is an older team according to division, Linabury said most of the teams they have seen have had a physical edge.

"We don't have guys who are 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, like a lot of the teams we saw at (the) state (tournament)," he said. "But that also showed the guys that they can beat anyone, regardless of size."

Through districts, sectionals and the state tournament, PC/BS has lost only one game and scored a bat bag full of runs. At the state tourney in Orlando, PC/SB scored 53 runs — in just five games.

"They are a very disciplined team and it shows in the way they have hit this summer," Linabury said. "They are well conditioned and ready to get things going (this weekend)."

Pete Cordero, who went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles in the state final, and Tanner Anderson led the team in hitting. Nick Rich provides the pop, as evidenced by his first-inning, three-run homer in the state championship game that gave PC/BS a lead it would not relinquish.

On the mound, Linabury's son Tyler, who tossed a complete game in the state semis, is the ace while Anderson provides a strong No. 2. To reach the World Series in Taylor, Mich., however, Scott Linabury said he knows there will have to be a balance between the team's talent and the fun that's been the glue all summer.

"This is important because some of these kids will play in high school and beyond, but some won't," he said.

"So this can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But no matter what, we're going to keep playing for the fun of it."

Little League juniors ready for regional play 07/31/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 9:24am]

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